When we talk about Victorian architecture, we’re generally referring to a style of home that was born during the Industrial Revolution and remained popular during much of the nineteenth century. Technically, for a home to be considered “Victorian,” it must have been built between 1837 and 1901 (the time when Queen Victoria was ruling over England).
Here in the U.S., many of our most well-known and beloved homes were built during this era, and although they may share the umbrella term “Victorian,” they remain incredibly unique in style and structure. In fact, there’s quite a wide variety of Victorians, each with their own distinctive set of qualities. Italianate, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Stick, and Eastlake are just a few of the most well known Victorian styles.
5 Victorian standouts in the U.S.
Style: Gothic Revival
Built in 1838 on a sprawling country estate overlooking the Hudson River, Lyndhurst is an incredible example of Victorian Gothic architecture. The Gothic Revival style borrowed elements from British Gothic Revival architecture: think pointed arched windows, turrets, and parapets. These homes were often complex in shape and enormous in size, so they’re generally found in rural settings where architects could more easily fit them into the landscape. Lyndhurst is exactly this type of country estate: a massive, stone mansion presiding over a 67-acre park with incredible views, grand, sweeping lawns and gardens, and even a cast iron greenhouse.
Style: Second Empire, Eastlake, Italianate, and Gothic
This 31-room, brick and limestone Victorian mansion boasts a grand, black walnut staircase, 9 marble fireplaces, painted ceilings, and soaring 112-foot tall windows. It’s widely regarded as one of the best examples of Second Empire Victorian architecture in all of the United States.
Style: Chateauesque / French Revival
Completed in 1893, Bishop’s Palace (also known as the Gresham’s Castle) is regarded as one of the country’s finest Victorian residences. An oversized house on a relatively small lot, the mansion is famous for its incredible stone and woodcarvings and its breathtaking octagonal mahogany staircase surrounded by stained glass.
Style: Stick-Eastlake and Queen Anne Fusion
Presiding over San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, the Haas-Lilienthal House is a local landmark, museum, and classic example of a San Francisco Victorian. Built in 1886 of old-growth redwood for the Bavarian Haas family, the home survived the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire, which destroyed many of the city’s other grand, Victorian homes. The home itself is nearly 12,000 square feet, 3 stories, and 24 rooms, and includes a ballroom and a 67-foot tall “witch’s hat” tower.
Style: Queen Anne
The Queen Anne Victorian style in the U.S. tended to boast elaborate structures, often built with flourishes like ornamental spindles, elaborate moldings, and patterned masonry. The Carson Mansion, completed in 1885, fits the bill perfectly as a – story, 18-room estate replete with intricate mahogany carvings, giant stained glass windows, ornate ceiling medallions, and 3 (!) onyx fireplaces.